MANILA, Philippines (AP) — left at least 28 dead and 12 missing, and forced thousands to flee their homes, devastating Christmas celebrations in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Typhoon Phanfone stranded many people in sea and airports at the peak of holiday travel, set off landslides, flooded low-lying villages, destroyed houses, downed trees and electrical poles and knocked out power in entire provinces. One disaster response officer described the battered coastal town of Batad in Iloilo province as a “ghost town” on Christmas Day.

“You can’t see anybody because there was a total blackout, you can’t hear anything. The town looked like a ghost town,” Cindy Ferrer of the regional Office of the Civil Defense said by phone.

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